If I didn’t love it, I wouldn’t do it

Canadian hip-hop icon Kardinal Offishall played a well-attended set at the Turret last week, and it got loud.

The floor shook beneath the feet of a mass of fans, who had their hands in the air more often than not. Opening acts included K-W rap outfit The Get By and the Team Canada DJs duo.

The Get By were a lyrical experience, imparting a message of authenticity and making an effort to level with the audience.

The Team Canada DJs were all about dance, blending rap, swing and 50s songs together into one continuous rhythm which kept the crowd dancing throughout the longest set of the night.

Kardinall Offishall arrived with his band and entourage around 11 o’clock and briefly spoke to The Cord.

Born Jason D. Harrow, Kardinall grew up in Scarborough, Ontario – with hip-hop being less of a genre than a “way of life.”

“Music is an expression of what we live, how we live, and why we live it,” remarked Kardinall, who started rapping when he was only eight years old.

By the age of 12 Kardinall performed on stage for the first time, with Nelson Mandela in attendance, an incredible start to what has ended up among the most successful careers in Canadian hip-hop.

“Music took up so much of my life. We dedicated so much time, effort, money, sweat, pain into being able to do this for a living,” said the rapper. And it shows in his performances.

Thursday’s show had terrific energy, which left little distinction between the performer and the audience. Kardinall had four select fans dancing on stage and a seething crowd of fans dancing below.

“We’re pretty show heavy,” stated Kardinall. “Some people don’t take much pride in their show, they just follow the status quo. I’m all about trying to have one of the craziest shows ever.”

Kardinall’s success as a live act was contingent as much on his audience as it was on his five piece band.

There wasn’t a single song Kardinall was willing to start if the audience wasn’t as physically involved as he was. That said, his stage presence made rallying the audience an easy task.

Being one of the biggest names in Canadian hip-hop, Kardinall receives regular recognition and is a consistent award winner, with three Junos and three SOCAN awards, among others. While he appreciates the recognition, Kardinall Offishall still enjoys making music for the sake of making music, and still gets a thrill out of performing for fans all over the world.

“If I didn’t love it,” said Kardinall, “I wouldn’t do it.”